Spring 2017 RAP Results: PTBi California funds two innovative research projects

The California Preterm Birth Initiative (PTBi-CA) is committed to engaging academic and community investigators across a variety of disciplines and sectors to collaboratively tackle the complex problem of preterm birth. Twice a year, we issue a call for proposals through the UCSF Resource Allocation Program (RAP) for innovative, high impact research with strong potential to turn the curve on preterm birth and reduce birth outcome disparities in the city of Oakland, and counties of San Francisco and Fresno. Funding is available for UCSF researchers and community-based collaborators. Since 2016, we have distributed over $2 million in awards for more than 20 discovery and interventions research projects in the preterm birth field.

All proposals are evaluated by the PTBi-CA Community Advisory Board, a scientific review committee convened by RAP, and the PTBi-CA leadership team. For the previous award cycle occurring this past Spring 2017, we are pleased to announce that two projects have been selected for funding:


Identifying biological drivers of preterm birth among women with insomnia

Aric Prather, PhD | Department of Psychiatry, UCSF School of Medicine

The goal of the proposed project is to identify the biological processes that lead women with insomnia to deliver preterm. Clinical insomnia negatively affects the immune system often leading to high levels of inflammation, which has been linked to preterm birth. Unfortunately, prior studies of sleep and preterm birth have focused on one or two biomarkers, even though preterm birth is complex and involves multiple biological pathways. To improve our understanding, we will comprehensively examine blood samples from 150 women, including women with and without insomnia who either experienced a preterm birth or delivered at term. These blood samples are directly linked to birth records and hospital discharge data via the California Biobank Program. Using cutting-edge technology and advanced statistical methods, we will be able to determine which biological pathways are most associated with preterm birth among women with insomnia. Findings from this project will lead to a critical advancement in our understanding of how insomnia “gets under the skin” to affect preterm birth and highlight new biological targets for prevention of preterm birth among women with insomnia.


Drug use and pregnancy policy study (D-APPS)

Sarah Roberts, DrPH | Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health

Most states have enacted one or more policies targeting drug use during pregnancy. These include punitive policies, e.g. allowing civil commitment of pregnant women for drug use and mandating reporting to Child Protective Services (CPS). They have also enacted supportive policies, e.g. giving pregnant women priority in entering substance abuse treatment. These policies continue to be enacted at the state-level; some components are included in federal legislation. These policies could influence preterm birth. Punitive policies could also have unintended consequences, such as deterring women from prenatal care. If women are deterred from prenatal care, there are fewer opportunities to provide other health-promoting interventions, such as prenatal care-based interventions to prevent preterm birth. The primary purpose of this project is to assess effects of state-level policies targeting drug use during pregnancy on preterm birth and prenatal care utilization and whether effects vary by race/ethnicity.


Congratulations to our newest award recipients! The next funding cycle will open on August 21st, 2017.